Over a century before Rush Limbaugh roamed the airwaves, Rush Roberts, whose Pawnee name translates to Fancy Eagle, roamed the Great Plains. While researching the life of Henry Roberts, left end on the great Carlisle Indian School football team of 1911, for my upcoming book, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, I came across the fact that Henry’s father was a quite colorful character.
In 1876, at age 16 or 17, Rush was recruited as a scout for the U. S. Cavalry, becoming the youngest man to fight under Gen. Crook in this campaign. It is documented that he participated in the November 25, 1876 Dull Knife-Mackenzie Fight (aka Battle of Bates Creek) as a member of the Pawnee Battalion. The Pawnees were credited for fighting with exceptional capability against one of their ancient enemies. He was awarded his father’s name, Fancy Eagle, for his bravery in battle. Almost a decade after the war ended, he enrolled as a student at Hampton Institute in Virginia. He stayed there for two years and later sent two of his children, one of whom was Henry Roberts. Rush eventually became a chief of the Skidi Pawnees and lived to an old age. His exploits ares mentioned in We Remember: the history of the U. S. Cavalry from 1776 to the present by Edward L. Daily.
In an interview about the plains wars, Rush stated that, in general, Indians weren’t good marksmen with rifles. The problem was that they didn’t understand how to use the rear sight and wind gauge to hit their targets at long distances. However, they were excellent at shooting from horseback, particularly at short range. Rush explained, “The group formations of the army made a bigger target, but army marksmanship was better and steadier.”